From 1986 to 2007, seven women were raped and killed by Walter Ellis. He was able to avoid detection by law enforcement because of flawed DNA records, and the victims were prostitutes. These women had multiple samples of DNA on them and drugs in their system.
The Breakdown of the false convictions before Walter Ellis was discovered
In 1995, Sammy Hadaway testified that Chaunte Ott raped and killed Jessica Payne for a plea deal to avoid a murder conviction charge. Hadaway stated that he robbed Jessica, and then witnessed Ott rape and kill her.
Hadaway confessed to the robbery and swore under oath that Ott was the killer to avoid a life sentence in prison. The murder story was laid out by the investigators many times, and Hadaway just had to say he did it and repeat what he had already been told numerous times.
Ott was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to life in prison, while Hadaway received 5 years in prison for robbery. Ott served 13 years in prison before being proved innocent by the Wisconsin Innocence Project. Attorneys proved that Ott’s DNA didn’t match any DNA found on the victims.
Holes in DNA Records
Ellis was able to stay off the radar for so long because he managed to have another inmate submit DNA in his place. It wasn’t until a special investigation unit following up on many leads obtained a warrant to search his property and used his toothbrush to get a new DNA sample.
Ellis was arrested for the murders in 2009 and died in prison of natural causes in 2013.
You need to protect yourself
While cases like Walter Ellis are rare, you need to protect yourself at all times when speaking with law enforcement. You should never be scared into confessing something you didn’t do to avoid a larger sentencing without consulting a lawyer. Having a knowledgeable defense lawyer could have aided Chaunte Ott in avoiding conviction all together.
Contact us to talk about your case and evaluate the best way to protect yourself!
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